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JUERGEN SCHREMPP : THE WILD CARD
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It appeared that DaimlerChrysler chairman Juergen Schrempp had managed to soothe his critics. The boards of DaimlerChrysler, Deutsche Bank and the Kuwaiti Investment Fund which had gathered to decide his future had stayed the execution, because it would have been too disruptive to the price of the stock.

Now, the one choice for the company's top job could be counted on one finger. It continued to be Juergen Schrempp - or so it seemed.

But the revelation of undercurrents in the debut issue of eMOTION! REPORTS appeared to have opened the floodgates about who could be waiting in the wings. Based on critical insider reporting, eMOTION! REPORTS had identified two people as potential candidates to assume the chairmanship when Schrempp was ultimately ousted. Those were insider Juergen Hubbert, a top executive inside DaimlerChrysler, and Ford Motor Co. President Jacques ("Jac") Nasser, a highly-regarded industry executive from the outside.

Boards, of course, look less at corporate intrigues and management personalities and more towards increasing shareholder value.

Balancing Act

The question is: how do you increase market value in the middle of an emerging downturn affecting at least three world markets?

An "off radar" analyst clarified , in depth, the way it would work:.

"Under these circumstances, there are only two agendas," said the analyst. "One, building value through benign cost cutting such as the 5 percent cost reduction demanded by DCX of its suppliers. This approach requires no internal cuts or disruption of cash flow, and adds to the bottom line instantly. Shareholders are pleased.

Star Power

"The second is the time honored approach of bringing in star power; an executive of such stature and capability that their mere presence moves share value on the plus side. At this juncture, there are very few, precious few, auto executives who meet this criteria. Of those who do, most are quickly eliminated due to unavailability. I can think of perhaps four: Roger Penske, Visteon's Pete Pestillo, Delphi's J.T. Battenberg and Ford's Jac Nasser.

"Among these, Penske is perfectly content where he is, Pestillo's on a fast track at Ford, Battenberg's basically the master of all that he surveys," the analyst added. "But (he's) in a perfect position to move quickly should clear thinking finally prevail at GM and it realizes it needs J.T. to steer the ship in
increasingly rough waters..

Nasser, on the other hand, is a perfect candidate. He knows he'll never be chairman as long as a Ford is in the top spot, and reports of Billy Ford's frustration with being frozen out of the executive loop continue.

Limited Choice

"There are only two places Nasser can go right now to be chairman; GM and DaimlerChrysler. GM's not even a consideration in light of {former GE Chairman} Jack Welch turning down the position. Where Nasser is needed right now, the perfect man for the perfect job at the perfect time, in a Churchillian sense, is DaimlerChrysler. He would instantly add at least $10 of share value the first day, there would be no executive culture shock and he would be the world's first truly global corporate executive.

It is my understanding that he is being discussed on the inside and outside of DCX as a candidate who will come in as Vice-Chairman under Schrempp, who has been given a temporary reprieve by the board. In the manner of Iacocca leaving Ford for Chrysler, he'd not go into the top spot immediately, but would be phased into the chairmanship within the year. In the meantime, Pestillo will be moved in as President and CEO of Ford, forcing a similar move on the part of Battenberg in a kind of domino effect. Everybody wins."

That analysis, relating to the DaimlerChrysler side, might be irrelevant if Schrempp actually had solidified his power during those late February meetings of top shareholders. But, in reality, he hadn't. The soft underbelly of his mistakes remained to be dealt with. And Schrempp's footing was as tenuous as before.

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